Beautiful sunrise at Seaspray, Victoria.
With the horrific bushfires burning for months in NSW and Victoria and other areas of Australia, we plotted our route home staying away from the most affected areas. It was eerie traveling through vast areas of countryside so black and in some cases still smouldering.
So here we are, on the road again. I have to keep pinching myself that it’s actually happening. For those of you new to our blog, it was 2013 when we decided to travel around Australia in a caravan.
Two years of preparation later (first had to buy a van having never owned one before) we headed up the east coast along the ‘great Aussie long paddock’ on Boxing Day 2015.
In Port Douglas, far North Queensland, my retina decided to detach itself for no good reason at all. Thus our trip was abandoned.
18 months and 6 lots of eye surgery later (I now have two extremely well attached retinas) and we were ready to complete the circumnavigation after Christmas 2016. This time toward the west coast. We bought a new car, a Ranger, for better towing, and were ready to head off after Christmas 2016. Christmas Eve our house burnt down.
Two years and a lot of stress and heart ache later our house is complete and we are on the road again.
We could not have got here with out our amazing support team (family, friends and the best neighbours in the world ). Thank you all for helping us get back on our feet and back on the road, we are so lucky to have you in our lives.
Having spent two years living in our van while our house was rebuilt, we recently sent it for some long overdue upgrades, repairs and maintenance, the most significant being having the van raised.
We headed to Portarlington to test things out which also gave us the opportunity to spend time with our pseudo grand children.
The Portarlington Seaside Resort, which comes under ‘Bellarine Bayside‘ management, is fabulous. It’s right on the waterfront, has fabulous water views, an easy walk to the pier and the town, and lots of things to entertain little ones. A great place for swimming and flying kites.
The Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park is a beautiful part of Victoria. We have been camping and caravanning there for many years. What we have never done before is to follow any of the 4WD tracks which takes you away from the towns and into some of the more remote areas of the National Park. So we packed up our little dome tent and minimal camping supplies and headed along a tour route set out by 4WD Victoria.
We headed to Bright for a few days and stayed at Bright Riverside Caravan Park, a beautiful spot right next to the Ovens River and a 5 minute walk across a foot bridge to the town centre. We had hoped to watch our friend paragliding from Mystic Mountain but a few cracked bones made him land bound. Hopefully next time we will get to see him in full flight.
The town of Bright is well known for its close proximity to the snow fields, making it very popular in winter. In Autumn the country side is a stunning pallet of colours and there are lots of food and wine festivals, which is when we were last here. However visiting in Spring has shown just how versatile Bright is as a country town. The town is very bicycle friendly with rail trails connecting it to neighboring towns. It has lots of cafes, local produce stores, a brewery, a small cinema, beautiful parks with BBQ and picnic facilities, bicycle and walking paths along the river and a fantastic swimming area with a water park for children. The water level is raised upstream from the foot bridge during summer by gates attached under the bridge making it a fabulous summer holiday destination. http://www.visitbright.com.au/rivers-and-lakes. The Victorian BMW motor bike club happened to be in town for a conference which made it an even more colourful place to be.
In preparation for our trip west in 2017, we did a 4WD training course through ‘Four Wheel Drive Victoria’, an umbrella organisation for all Victorian 4WD clubs. First day was theory, second was all practice. It was amazing, there were about 8 cars, all of us novices, most with bright new shiny 4WDs. The instructors sat in the car with each of us for the hazards. They covered the basics of a simple retrieval so we can help someone out of a bog. We learnt so much, it was fantastic. We drove through sand, mud, along a river, up steep hills doing an emergency stop and reverse. Even me who hates bumpy roads loved it. Looking forward to Gibb River Road and Bungle Bungles next year.
It’s Whale Watching season along the Great Ocean Road, the perfect destination for a trial run with our new Ford Ranger to see how it tows the van. So we packed our winter woollies and headed for Warrnambool.
Homer, our Jack Russell, is 15 years old, turning 16 this year, too old to leave in a kennel when we go away. So we decided to try him in the van for the first time and took him to Cowes on Phillip Island for 2 nights. Because he is completely deaf, mostly blind, and has arthritis in his back, he spent his time enjoying short, slow walks, taking in all the smells and meeting lots of other dogs.